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tv   Inside Story 2017 Ep 314  Al Jazeera  November 12, 2017 2:32pm-3:01pm AST

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we have to get to work the spanish prime minister mariano rajoy is in catalonia for the first time since director was imposed on the region he's addressing supporters ahead of next month's elections thousands marched on saturday demanding the release of catalan leaders are imprisoned whilst being investigated for their role in last month's secession bit. rebel fighters in syria again under heavy bombardment by government warplanes thousands of civilians have fled days of bombing in aleppo province the u.n. says it's concerned by the bombing campaign involving government forces backed by russia last craze containing at least four hundred suspected eisel victims have been found in northern iraq the sites were discovered near a military base close to the town of who we are the governor of kirkuk says many of the dead were dressed in prison uniforms. the u.s. has joined calls for the saudi led coalition to lift his blockade of yemen but it
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also says it recognizes the coalition's concerns about stopping the movement of arms to who see rebels roger today there is the latest headlines from us here at al-jazeera coming up next it's an inside story. saudi arabia is accused of forcibly detaining lebanese leaders. unify different political groups but is becoming an open battleground for regional proxy . this is inside story.
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with. hello and welcome to the program i'm laura. it's been a week since lebanon's prime minister saad hariri suddenly resigned during a visit to saudi arabia his actions have set off a chain of events that continue to play out across the region the iranian backed hezbollah movement part of hero is governing coalition says saudi arabia is holding him against his will hezbollah believes by forcing her very to resign saudi arabia has declared war on lebanon the u.s. has joined the u.n. in calling for stability and lebanon warning regional powers against using the country for proxy conflicts we have a lot to get to with our guests but first this report from in beirut. citizens of saudi arabia and its gulf allies visiting or living in lebanon are leaving it's not the first time gulf countries tell their citizens it is not safe to stay lebanon
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has long been entangled in the saudi iranian power struggle across the region but the latest warning heightened tensions after the resignation of lebanon's prime minister saad heavy but alongside the tensions there are growing signs of lebanese unity in what many see as saudi interference in their country the resignation was sudden raising concerns about the circumstances behind the decision there is also concern about how to ease freedom of movement he may have been seen since he made the announcement in riyadh but the prime minister hasn't made any more statements lebanon's president michel aoun believes how he is under house arrest he told a saudi arabia the fear in beirut. that the circumstances of the resignation are an acceptable and how d.d. should return immediately. and how did his own political party made a similar demand they didn't just suggest the prime minister is being held against his will but expressed concern that lebanon's son the community could be
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marginalized even further. from this and from charges and disappoint far. as controlling their government and for controlling. vested on the other hand today they are concerned about. how do you know. so this is why yesterday. to. how do you really should be a priority lebanon is a deeply divided country there is a pro saudi camp led by her which has long accused has been law of imposing iran's agenda here there is a pro iran camp led by hezbollah which has long resisted demands to disarm and to withdraw its troops fighting alongside the syrian government but even has a lot. has added its voice to demands for how to be to return it to rating the belief that the prime minister is being held against his will when i know not that
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. we have. all the lebanese take this as an offense and any offense to the lebanese prime minister is an offense to all the lebanese even if he is our political outbursts are a. hezbollah secretary general has an astrolabe was careful to avoid political escalation instead he accused saudi arabia of wanting to impose a new leadership in lebanon and start a war he called on the lebanese to avoid provocation and to stay away from the streets the political divide hasn't gone away but for now at least politicians are putting it aside there is a rare consensus for the need to unite at what many describe as dangerous times. beirut. let's bring in our guest now and joining us here in doha beverly milton edwards visiting fellow at the brookings doha center in beirut come all was named political analyst and founder of
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the center for the american strategic studies and also in beirut nor some are a freelance journalist covering the levant region well welcome to all of you first of all beverly let's start by asking the big question here what does saudi want in lebanon does it want to change of government because it wants a proxy war with iran what's the aim well i think that's the multibillion rionda question that you're asking there and i'm sure if any of us have the answer we'd have a multibillion reales in our in our pockets for our thanks i think we're seeing a number of factors care and we can't just really look at one issue in isolation of others i mean it's been clear for some time that saudi arabia has been involved in the politics of lebanon hoping to create a where leverage your raney and influence out of the country and in particular to undermine his baller and the extent to which it's been successful is questionable
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the other is is that this may be a case of the art of distraction given the domestic turbulence that has taken place in saudi arabia over the last seven days it may well be that this is a. one way in which both domestic and international audiences and regional audiences are distracted from the implications of the internal changes in saudi arabia that's a pretty pretty risky game to play though isn't it yes and no in fact what i was going to add here is that we see perhaps the emergence of particular political personalities including the crown prince and also his minister of arbonne and gulf affairs minister upon and what's very interesting there is is that in terms of the long game this strategy doesn't look like it started off well if they had hoped to divide lebannon and move those in the camp closer they've had the opposite
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effect of what we see is perhaps that this might be initially at least in the short term somewhat reckless and i think also it perhaps alerts to the lack of understanding all the unwilling the spy the young crown prince to know the region understand its history and how complex actions are within the region particularly relation to domino effects whether they're played out in lebanon or on or yemen or syria or iraq or libya or i mean i could go on about it would you agree with that analysis. had been summoned m.b.'s is known in the region as perhaps underestimated what could be achieved overestimated rather what could be achieved in lebanon in terms of destabilizing it or indeed. undermining hezbollah it's obviously counterfire it's the whole initiative that they took to destabilize lebanon or the threat that we heard in the past months or that skill ation
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a turn against the sudanese because to learn in lebanon almost we have a unifying position we want our prime minister back we want the security of the country you want the country to be a process. and safe the statement that coming from studio it aimed to destabilize the particles of lebanon it's actually they want to destabilize the economy of lebanon they have been hasn't worked for the sooty is ours actually quantrill counterproductive and it's like somebody is shooting himself in the foot this is speak of the use and experience that exist in sudhir arabia and some of the muscles that they think they can actually put a lot of pressure on the lebanese and they think the lebanese can cave and the lebanese are very smart very aware of what is taking place they understand the importance of sudhir abia but they do understand the value and
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sovereignty of lebanon today we're talking about the sovereignty of this country but we will not in this country allows any country to jeopardize the peace and security and this is a position from the highest position from the from from the president of the country who is that firm who who's that. if i could just jump in there and i'm sure i'm wondering if it's perhaps too soon to say that this strategy by the saudis is not well after all harry is still by all accounts in riyadh he has not returned to lebanon to resigned formally well well the issue is not is about the prime minister the prime minister is very important for the country but the stability of the country the unifying of the country this is really backfired because a lot of people thought this country is going to fall apart and then we can go begging to saudi arabia to not do this because every day with they say we're going
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to impose sanctions against you we're going to do this we cannot do this we cannot ruin the country it's only one country lebanon is a sovereign country unlike the lebanon is a democratic society we have connection with. rest of the world we have connection with almost one hundred ninety country we have agreed with all countries around the world we have respect among a lot of countries around the world we have people around the world we have a lot four million people lebanon but we have almost from the millions overseas nobody can to bring the lebanese world to this level i think there is a lot of miscalculation on the last part of who came to power of these things they can push lebanon this is back while we have a unified position in the country there is some in the country this feels they can capitalize on this but even those are minority within the country the position he is a hostage there is an international law there who has
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a unity and we want him back under these immunity ok the law if i could bring your own for a moment of the real value come out of my concern bring norrin just to get an idea of what the reaction is in lebanon the lebanese remain steadfast against the saudi move as come out car was just saying absolutely and i think that this is probably one of the one of the biggest miscalculations on the saudi part i think what they were hoping to do by pushing for this resignation was ignite some sort of. friction between the different political factions which would then play out on the streets which would allow them to take advantage of that instability to disrupt the government and the process that was happening within the political system but what we've actually seen is no one has taken to the streets on behalf of the of saudi and in fact everyone has come together to come out. to bring back the prime minister which i think and also it's playing out in in many different areas i mean
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it's interesting enough i mean you're seeing it in nightclubs people are chanting to bring back the prime minister. there's supposed to be a marathon that's being run in his name every political. action traditionally opposing each other and now coming together to to demand the return of their prime minister ok i'll take a closer look at this point eleven's complex political set up beginning with the three rolls that must have specific representation for the president he must be a maronite christian and there's the prime minister a sunni muslim and the speaker of parliament a shia muslim the country is split between two political camps a saudi backed alliance and a pro syrian iranian coalition differences between the two sides have led to the collapse of governments in two thousand and five two thousand and eleven and two thousand and thirteen saad hariri became lebanon's most influential sunny politician after his father a figure who was assassinated in two thousand and five last year parliament swore
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in a new cabinet dominated by hezbollah and its allies hariri became prime minister after hezbollah backed cans that michelle took the role of president that brings us to today where all factions have united to call for her always return to lebanon. but seeing this unity for now i think we're all agreed that people in lebanon the political parties have joined together but how long can that last for how quickly must hariri come back before we start to see cracks forming disintegration of this coalition government. well that question is very patent it takes us to the beginning and to the beginning of lebanon's history to the present day which is the answer that question lies in the extent to which external actors in them live pressures or interfere or fail to support the lebanese call for the return of their prime minister where if he returns and declares an official resignation as
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a result of some form of domestic consensus then fair enough so we've seen already the regional actors and in particular international actors coming from washington and from the e.u. have this week been saying please external actors to lebannon do not interfere do not undermine the stability of the country do not endanger the security of the country because they are not only concerned about lebanon but they're concerned about the fact that lebanon is a neighbor to a number of countries where we see why detentions in the region mean india dition to the fact that our guests a pointed out that the lebanese population itself we must remember that lebanon is a hosting nation two very vulnerable syrian and palestinian refugee community since so the answer to that question perhaps lives not just within lebanon but also outside of lebanon and those actors that may seek to take advantage of this moment
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positively or negatively at how unified it is that voice from the outside because we've got the u.s. on the one hand saying we support level one on the other hand we've got donald trump visiting saudi arabia seemingly to support the saudi regime france as well on the one side supporting lebanon and the other side president visiting saudi arabia so some mixed messages going on there or certainly from western capitals there are mixed messages and yes i mean trump did i think he tweeted over a week ago on the situation saying he for. he supported king some and that he fully supported the crown prince in everything that they do dot dot dot they had every confidence in this i think by and large people are less inclined to look to trump as any kind of significant lever on this on these kinds of regional politics and they're more inclined to look at in particular to listen in the state department
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and in particular again then when we look at the european capitals we look at paris now what i must point out however about the united states of america is that washington is a vast to involving itself in lebanon we just actually when i was in lebanon two weeks ago the newspapers were marking the thirty fourth anniversary of the marines' bombing on the parents there and really since that point america has been a vast and his paid a very high cost for its of involvement in lebannon paris on the other hand including president mccrone we see is invested in lebanon speech or and i think it's worth noting that in fact he made a surprise visit to riyadh on friday or thursday or friday of this week and that clearly he's attempting or france is attempting to find some useful face saving solution to this problem which brings me carol to the other regional main
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other regional player here iran of course they'll be watching the situation very closely of on promissary said he would cut off iran's hand in lebanon his recent resignation statement what do you think terrence next move is going to be well i think that the statement that came from studio was read by the prime minister and we don't take it into account at this point because we seems that been read by a threat from there so do so we we know that he was receiving iranian. delegate vote just a day or two a few hour. as before he departed to seward yeah rabia there is tension between the prime minister and between maybe the prime minister and has been but. basically now everybody today one it the prime minister to come back to lebanon the iranian the us their position they want the stability of the security of lebanon hezbollah is basically one of the same thing we heard the head of hezbollah was
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speaking very clearly about the opposition he talked very strong position about that you have to remember this government was was was a created based on consensus that people they said they agree they have some differences but the interest of the country was put a head of everything else today where the sooty they probably resented this consensus that took place in lebanon and they decided they they want to blow up this government and that's basically what they did they pushed this government by inviting the prime minister mr and take him as a hostage they have to remember this is a country where there is a lot of challenges those people come around and that's what we see today i think might my advice for the sudanese this is world backfires and this is actually will make you lose a lot of influence in lebanon in the short term and in the long term lebanon wanted
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a good relationship with everybody around around the region around the globe they've been making a lot of miscalculation not in lebanon in the amman in qatar with a lot of countries they come up count on mr trump mr trump is is as a nut case he did it anyway as let's say make us is a again thing itself on lebanon no i just want to move at auction on or i'm going to administration situation again in lebanon and the sunni community particularly how they are feeling now that they've lost their particular temporarily represent. haitian government i mean i think that there's not just with the sunni community but i mean across the board there is concerns about what the next steps are going to be. as there's concern within those obviously there's there's a rallying around within the sunni community that they need to stand behind their sunni leader and this is also being voiced by the other sunni leaders in the country which i think is reassuring for lebanon as
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a whole that you're not seeing that sort of division that you would have seen before but i think much more. what the fears that are coming out right now across the board are what will happen in terms of economic economically to the country what will happen in terms of security to the country and this is something that we just affect the the sunni community but it's something that will affect the entire country and i think this is this is where your other guest also sort of alluded to this in the fact that. with the with with this amount of instability now coming forward it is very possible for the saudis or for other players to try and capitalize on this instability to create division within the different communities inside lebanon so again strike striking out that sunni shia divide. a uniting one one one community from another and i think right now all of the political leaders in lebanon are trying to ensure and and and and work on this to make sure that this doesn't flare up again as as we've seen in the past how easy is it to stoke unrest
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in lebanon i think you don't have to worry about level of lebanon is very very unified from within everybody understand the challenges and the difficulties are we facing today i have to just addressed one thing the made very clear in the especially the future of bloc they actually say they want the prime minister to come back to lebanon seem this one actually this is a broad everybody on board i think the security of the country is. and out of control now more than ever but we have to be very careful there always will be some terrorist activity could happen here and there we know that that these intelligence are capable of doing a lot of things so there is fear of securities issue but as far as stability of the country that country the army the internal security every every
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military authority eleven on are watching very carefully and everybody is actually know the size of the threat and everybody understand what it means to be unified and i think we are very unified more than any time i seen before that we just kind of confidence. took to a certain extent i mean i think we have to remember that lebanon has always been vulnerable to external interference that in some sense it has been against its wishes against the wishes of its population it has often been the theater of conflict bloody violence and intern lysine war for other actors and we've seen that with syria we've seen that with israel we've seen that with the french we've seen that with iran we've seen that with saudi arabia. so i think we're come away as right is that in terms of political resilience clearly it's the case the reaction
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has not been what saudi arabia or others who support saudi arabia may have anticipated but in terms of security resilience this starts it does make it does make lebanon vulnerable and it would be silly to to think otherwise and i think that's why again we see the reaction from certain european capitals and from the united states because in terms of the international interest and the prosecution of all of wider security strategic campaigns in the middle east as they pertain to syria and iraq and the war against isis that that this starts this does have an impact and this is what what i call the contagion of men that has been unleashed knowingly or unknowingly if we if we except perhaps that there's a degree of inexperience and ignorance in him immaturity in the some foreign policy making circles in riyadh no is this
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a situation that lebanon can sort out on its own and should sort out on its own. i don't think anything in lebanon's history has ever been sorted out by lebanon on its own and i think that we would be incredibly naive in optimistic to assume that we can sort it out by ourselves as well but i think that the the calls by the international combined members in the international community to to for lebanon to try and deal with this and the the the voices that are coming out from lebanon in unison with the same message is it's positive but i think i think eventually late this is this is an issue that saudi has with iran and this is an issue that will only be solved between saudi arabia and iran and i want to know early as beverly said lebanon is is has always been a battlefield for other forces they were going to have a mainly we're going to have to leave our discussion for today come i was in the
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north and beverly milton edwards thank you all very much for joining us and thank you too for watching you can see the program again any time by visiting our website that's al-jazeera dot com and for further discussion to go to our facebook page that's facebook dot com ford slash a.j. inside story you can also join the conversation on twitter or handlers at a.j. inside story from me laura kyle and the whole team here by phone or. the and we're. travel often. by tranquil board to use and buckled forests may provide wind
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